I recently had the pleasure of reading Graciela Limón’s latest novel, The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy (Café Con Leche Books, April 2015). It was a fantastic read! Below you’ll find a brief description followed by my thoughts. Happy reading!
Revenge and murder define Ximena Godoy’s story. Her lifetime spans the first half of the 20th century, a transformative time of revolution, economic depression, uprooting and migration. During that time, she witnesses and participates in an era of revolution, bootlegging, dance halls, as well as evolving rules that determine women’s lives in both Mexico and America. Never a traditional or conventional woman, Ximena Godoy shatters rules that govern her Mexican heritage, and even those of a wider world. Her story portrays an ever-changing woman who morphs from sheltered child into a complex, deeply flawed human being, passionate and independent, quick to love unconditionally, but just as ready to cling obsessively to revenge, a flaw that leads her into the murky world of murder and criminal justice.
Limón’s latest work is the compelling story of Ximena Godoy, a strong, wilful, ambitious and passionate woman way ahead of her times. The novel begins in 1950 Los Angeles with a murder, then moves back to 1908 Guadalajara when Ximena was a wealthy, beautiful, precocious girl of nine – already capturing the eyes of older men – who wants to join the revolution, to 1920’s-30’s Juarez’s Great Depression before sweeping back full circle to 1950 L.A.
Tragedy and violence seem to surround Ximena like a curse, and from her choice of men to the way she impulsively follows her heart, she fluctuates from ecstatic happiness to unbearable anguish. In an era when proper women were “like a glass of finest crystal that will always show the slightest sign of being handled,” Ximena rises above the rest – and pays the full price.
The author uses the omniscient point of view, so the reader is able to glimpse into all the characters’ psyches. Limón’s prose is beautiful and forceful, flowing like the blood of the revolutionaries. Love, passion, regret, treason, and revenge are the main themes explored in the story. With her many flaws, Ximena is a protagonist that will be loved by some, yet hated by others. One thing is for sure: no reader will remain impartial to her powerful personality. The historical details bring the story to life with vivid sharpness, and the author culminates the story with a thoroughly satisfying ending. Highly recommended!
Purchase from Amazon and Cafe con Leche Books.
Visit Graciela Limón’s website.